Assoc. Prof. Emre Alp

Dr. Emre Alp graduated from METU Environmental Engineering Department earning his bachelor’s degree in 1997 and Master's degree in 1999. He received his Master’s degree in 2002 and Ph.D degree in 2006 from Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI, USA), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Until 2008, he continued his post-doctoral studies in the USA and then he started to work as a faculty member in METU Department of Environmental Engineering. Dr. Alp continues his studies on Basin Management, Water Quality Modeling, Environmental Management and Water-Energy and Food Nexus.

The former President Kemal Kurdaş, who made outstanding efforts in the establishment and development of our University, gave plenty of detailed information about the efforts both on education and the infrastructure of the campus in his book "ODTÜ Yıllarım, "Bir Hizmetin Hikayesi" (METU Press, First Edition, 1998), where he described the establishment stages and the first years of METU. In this book, it is stated that METU is planning to accommodate about 12,000 students and about 15,000 faculty members, academic and administrative staff. In the same book, Kemal Kurdaş also explained the efforts made to meet the water needs of the new campus. In this period, it was planned to meet the water needs of the campus from two artesian wells, which were dug at Bursallı Valley extending from Incesu Creek of Lake Eymir towards Elmadağ and providing 90 liters of water per second. The stated project was completed in 1964. Until this project was completed, a spring used by all the settlements established in the region from the ancient Galat city until today and having 3-4 liters of water capacity and found in Yalıncak Village located within the borders of the campus was used to meet the water needs of the campus. Today, METU has reached more than two folds of the capacity planned for the first years with 28,000 students and over a population of 30,000. As in the years when it was established, METU now meets the water need from three wells near Lake Eymir and consumes 1-1,2 million m3 water per year with increasing water needs.

Pressures such as climate change, rapid and unorganized urbanization, population growth, decline in natural resources, ecosystem damage, pollution, increased energy and food demand have raised global environmental awareness. In this context, it has become more and more important to assess the environmental performance of METU, which has rapidly increased both research and education capacity since the 1960s, and to put the operational strategies into practice in line with sustainable environmental principles.

The concept of sustainability, which appears in many different disciplines, means meeting the current needs by taking into account the needs of future generations. Sustainable agriculture, sustainable water management, sustainable cities, sustainable economy, sustainable campus sustainability are just a few of the concepts that make sustainability a part of everyday life. Environmentally friendly Sustainable / Green Campus applications that adopt resource efficiency and sustainability principles are rapidly spreading throughout the world. Green Campuses provide ecological sustainability principles through academic programs, research, campus life, and physical operations. Therefore, sustainability principles become the focal point for all units within the borders of a campus and are implemented. Examples of physical operations include the following:

• Renewable energy use

• Recycling

• Use of local foodstuffs

• Water saving measures

• Public transport systems

• Reduced use of resources

• Sustainable storm water management, etc.

As previously mentioned, METU, one of Turkey's largest universities, has a campus area of 4,500 hectares and a forest area of 3,043 hectares and a population of about 30,000. It provides accommodation for about 7.000 students in 19 dormitories on campus. Having such a large campus area and an intensive student population makes green campus applications necessary for METU campus.

This article gives brief information on a Scientific Research Project (Project No:BAP - 08 -11 - KB2014K120600-2) carried out under the Advanced Research Platromium for Renewable Energy, Ecosystems and Sustainability (METU-YESAP), supported by METU President's Office between the years 2014 and 2017. With this project, the environmental performance of METU was assessed and the application possibilities for sustainable storm water, water and solid waste management for METU campus were reviewed from the Green Campus approach. The project was an interdisciplinary study and 6 faculty members and 13 undergraduate/graduate students from 4 different departments contributed to it. Executed by Assoc. Prof. Emre Alp, the project involved Prof.Dr. Dilek Sanin and Asst.Prof. Derya Dursun Balcı from Environmental Engineering, Prof.Dr. Elçin Kentel Erdoğan, Assoc.Prof. Sinan Erdoğan from Civil Engineering, and Prof.Dr. Şebnem Düzgün from Mining Engineering and Maden Mühendisliği ve Geodesy and Geographical Information Technologies as researchers. In addition, undergraduate and graduate students Melike Kiraz, Sevde Karayılan, Selin Buğdaycı, Ecem Bahçelioğlu, Nazlı Barçın Doğan, Sinan Özhan Kaya, Naz Şimşek, Ufuk Sarısaltık, Barış Özünlü, Cansu Özcan, Gizem Gül Topal from Environmental Engineering and İhsan Kurt, Erdinç Yıldız from Geodesy and Geography Information Technologies contributed to the project.

During the project, the relevant administrative units in METU actively participated in both the provision of information and the data collection process at all stages of the project. These units include General Secretariat, Office of Central Heating and Water Support, Office of Internal Services, Office of Forestation and Landscape Planning, Office of Cafeterias, Office of Swimming Pools, Office of Dormitories, Office of Sports, Lake Eymir Pump Station Group, Environmental Engineering Laboratories, Scrap Processing and Waste Commission. In this context, the project is the most comprehensive work carried out on green campus applications in METU in terms of both the scope of work packages and the number of academic and administrative units contributing to the project. The following is a summary of the work carried out under the 3 components of the project:Storm Water Management, Solid Waste Management, Water Management

Storm Water Management

Within the scope of the project, the Geographical Information System (GIS) data of the digital elevation map, land use, locations of the buildings and routes of the roads of the METU campus were collected from the units in our university and the maps of the storm water sewage lines were digitized and impermeable and impermeable areas on the METU campus were identified for the putting the sustainable storm water management into operation. The flow-meter and meteorology station provided within the project was placed in the main storm water collection lines and continued the measurements until the end of 2017.

The amount of surface runoff in the campus area was measured using the collected data and the developed model, and the link between the amount of surface runoff, and the amount and duration of rainfall was revealed. In this context, as the outputs of the project;

i) Hydrological analyzes were conducted on the amount of surface runoff formed in the METU campus, and the following issues have been researched: the effect of the impermeable areas on the amount of surface runoff for the METU campus through the Storm Water Management Model (SWMM).

ii) Low-Impact Urbanization applications, which are a part of sustainable storm water management aiming at preventing point source pollution, floods and re-use of storm water

a.    green roofs

b.    rain barrels (storm water harvest)

c.     rain gardens

d.    permeable concrete (road, parking lot, etc.)

and retrofit systems were proposed for convenient locations on the campus. To this end, ArcGIS integrated software has been developed and used on the campus. The eco-urban urbanization strategy aims to increase the percentage of permeable areas and the use of storm water, while preventing floods and urban point source pollution through low impact urbanization strategies and a water-centric urbanization approach.

Water Management

As one of the leading universities of our country, METU has been carrying out various applications to play its part on sustainable management of water in the best way. Water savings have been provided at high rates in this direction and studies in this regard are still going on. Water savings in METU will also save a great deal of energy in pumps, treatment and heating systems. In addition, efficient management of storm water will reduce the amount of water used for irrigation and similar needs. METU’s potable water is supplied from three deep wells in the Bursallı Valley of Lake Eymir. In addition, water can be also supplied from the ASKI Water Tank when needed. As a pilot application in Turkey, the waste water of ODTÜKENT housing units and ODTÜ Teknokent is treated in a membrane plant with a daily capacity of 200 m3 and used as irrigation water in the Teknokent outdoor areas. In the lawn areas covered by the landscape areas around the campus, automatic irrigation systems are used for irrigation between May and October. While the lawn areas are irrigated using the irrigation system, the plants are irrigated using the drip irrigation system in the irrigation program.

All phases of supplying water used in METU from the wells around Lake Eymir to the campus, including the distribution within the campus, were reviewed in detail through field work (Eymir water supply station, Oran water reservoir, Yalıncak main water reservoir, etc.). At the same time, units related to pools, cafeterias, thermal power plants and green area irrigation were visited, the current systems were examined, water consumption data were collected and both data and conceptual bases were developed to establish sustainable water management.

Smart meters were purchased from the project budget and water consumption of the Cafeteria, dormitories No.1, 3, 19, Isa Demiray, Faika Demiray and Refika Demiray started to be monitored online on an hourly basis and daily water consumption per person was determined in the light of the collected data. In addition, questionnaries were administered in the dormitories, and both behavioral and infrastructural changes were proposed to reduce water consumption.

Drought is becoming a global problem by increasing year by year. The water of the METU campus is supplied from the underground waters of the Imrahor Valley. Therefore, it is of great importance not only to ensure water management in METU but also reducing water consumption and protecting underground water resources. METU has set three strategies under three groups to protect the quality and quantity of the water resource in the geographical region where the campus is located, to minimize the negative effects of university activities on this water resource and to reduce water consumption in the campus. These are strengthening, reducing and renewing. In line with these strategies, it is necessary to make various infrastructure investments within the University and to develop the Asset Management System for water and wastewater infrastructure systems.

Asset management is the application of managing infrastructure capital assets to reduce the total cost of providing and operating these assets while delivering the desired services at a high quality. In this context, asset management is seen as an instrument that provides managers and decision makers with critical information about capital assets and gives an idea of ​​the timing of investments. Within this scope, water distribution networks and sewage systems are covered in infrastructure asset management.

Solid Waste Management

The METU campus is spread over a wide area and it has cultural and social buildings and living areas (dormitories, guesthouses and lodgings) as well as administrative and academic buildings. This causes the solid waste to be produced in the campus with different characteristics. While some of the waste are recyclable and reusable, some may not be collected correctly and may be harmful to the environment and human health if not processed. Chemical waste from laboratories can be given as examples for hazardous waste, plenty of paper waste from the library and classrooms for recyclable and reusable waste. In METU, the garbage collected by two university garbage trucks is transported to the solid waste landfill in Mamak. The recycle bins located within the campus by the Municipality of Çankaya are collected by the municipality. There are recycle bins inside the buildings and there has been on-site decomposition application in the library and in some departments since early 2015. Organic waste is thrown together with other garbage and are not passed through any composting process.

In the work package related to the solid waste management of the project, field works were carried out in 4 different periods and the amounts of waste collected for solid waste and recycling produced at different times in METU were calculated and the waste production rates per capita were determined both locally and periodically. The campus has been analyzed in two regions. Since the solid waste characteristics of the buildings in these regions are different (food waste, paper waste, etc.), both regions are divided into sub-regions and the solid waste amounts and characteristics were reviewed in detail. The explanations about the regions are as follows:

1st Region: This corresponds to about 32% of the campus area analyzed. The garbage truck for this region follows the following route, respectively: 1. Cafeteria, 2. Çarşı Area, 3. Dormitories Area, 4. Departments

2nd Region: It constitutes 64% of the total area (the remaining 4% of the total area is the forest area). 2. The garbage truck for this region follows the following route, respectively: 1. Teknokent 2.   Service Units 3.ODTÜKENT

Recycling: Recyle bins are collected by Çankaya Municipality. The whole area was collected with a single vehicle and followed a route as follows: 1.       Dormitory Area + Çarşı Area + Cafeteria 2.   ODTÜKENT 3.  Departments. While the bins in ODTÜKENT area are collected twice a week, those around Çarşı and Dormitories Area are collected every day.

Processes were successfully completed to produce compost from domestic waste through an application to minimize food waste. Within the scope of solid waste work package, information about waste produced in cafeteria and laboratory was also collected and packages of proposals were created for sustainable waste management.

Within the scope of the Solid Waste Work Package of the project, the waste management plans followed by the Cafeteria, Medical Center, Central Laboratory, Laboratories Department of Environmental Engineering , University Waste Commission and Office of Scrap Management in METU were reviewed and compared to the applications in other universities, which can be given as examples of “Green Campus”. Finally, the proposals were provided about the positive results of the comparisons and suggestions were made for the applications that could be implemented on METU campus.

General Evaluation

Proposals made within the scope of the project are given in detail in the Final Report. The most important institutional contribution of the project is that it is the first project to be conducted on this scale on storm water, water and solid waste management in METU. In this context, project outputs are two important contributions

1-  The current situation of METU has been revealed in detail regarding the issues discussed within the scope.

2-  Suggestions have been put forward based on the current situation evaluations. In order to put these suggestions into practice; it was proposed that

  1. A Sustainable Campus Office should be established and
  2. The Environmental Performance Assessments should be made in parallel with the academic and administrative performance assessments.

Common Impact

The following activities have been carried out to share the project outputs.

1) An environmental engineering student has completed her Master’s thesis under the Water Management work package (Melike Kiraz, Sustainable Water and Stormwater Management for METU Campus, Masters thesis, METU Department of Environmental Engineering)

2) The outputs of the solid waste management section were shared in an oral presentation in the 12th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy Water and Environmental Systems (Dubrovnik, October 4 - 8, 2017). (Bahçelioğlu, E., Buğdaycı, E.S., Doğan, N.B., Şimşek, N., Kaya, S.Ö. and Alp., E., 2017, Sustainable Campus Initiatives through Integrated Solid Waste Management in METU Campus, Turkey, 12th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems (SDEWES), October 4-8 2017, Dubrovnik, Hırvatistan)

3) The outputs of the water management section of the project were shared in the 12th National Environmental Engineering Conference held in October 2017. (Kiraz, M. and Alp, E., 2017, Water-Energy Nexus in Middle East Technical University: Challenges and Opportunities, 12th National Environmental Engineering Conference, October 5-7, 2017, METU, Ankara)

4) The outputs of the solid management section of the project were shared in a poster presentation in the 12th National Environmental Engineering Conference held in October 2017. (Bahçelioğlu, E., Buğdaycı, E.S., Doğan, N.B., Şimşek, N., Kaya, S.Ö. and Alp, E. ,2017, Sustainable Campus Initiatives with Integrated Solid Waste Management in METU Campus, 12th National Environmental Engineering Conference, October 5-7, 2017, METU, Ankara)

5) With the work on the water management part of the project, Melike Kiraz won the 1st prize  in the competition for 6th Turkish German Water Cooperation Days held in 2016 and delivered an oral presentation within this organization.

6) Science is Fun and Science At Home Activities were attended in 2016 and 2017 with the theme of Adventures of a Water Drop and storm water management was explained on a model.

7) The Science Day held in 2015 by the Faculty of Engineering was attended by two studies. ( 1-Use and Protect Your Water Wisely: Water Management at METU Campus, Melike Kiraz and Sevde Karayılan 2-Solid Waste Management Challenge: METU Campus Applications, Ecem Bahçelioğlu, Selin Buğdaycı and Ufuk Sarısaltık)

8) An oral presentation was made at the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference 2015. This conference differs in structure from other conferences and is one of the important conferences in which the universities share their experiences. (Gizem Gül Topal, H. Şebnem Düzgün, Sinan Turhan Erdoğan, Elçin Kentel, Emre Alp, Sustainable Stormwater Management on METU Campus, Ankara, Turkey, Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference, March 30-31, 2015, University of Maryland, Baltimore USA)